The Dark Brown Tortoise That Might Have Been…

Pelikan 101N Tortoiseshell Brown with Black AccentsPelikan has been responsible for the innovation and production of some of the most iconic fountain pens of the 20th century.  With 90 years of experience in pen making, a great number of models have been released into the wild.  Some releases were only meant for certain markets and therefore are fairly scarce in most other parts of the world.  As such, a model may be sighted so infrequently that it generates years of debate amongst enthusiasts about its authenticity.  One such example is the elusive M600 Tortoiseshell Brown (circa 1985-96) but it is not the only example.  While the M600 mentioned here turned out to be a factory produced model made for the Japanese market, there is another, older tortoise that has also been subject to a fair amount of speculation.   That model is a Pelikan 101N Dark Tortoiseshell Brown.  While that may not sound controversial, it’s the accents found on this particular pen that make it so.  Rather than the well documented red or tortoise colored components, both the cap top and piston knob of this Dark Tortoise are black.  Much of the information offered to justify this pen’s existence to date has been circumstantial and based on regional anecdotes.  Enough of these have been spotted in the wild to at least suggest that they may have been more than someone’s backroom special.  Today, I try to examine the available evidence and demonstrate once and for all the true origins of this controversial and largely undocumented 101N.

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